Victorian Los Angeles

The Ford House at Heritage Square

On Saturday, Martine and I re-visited the Heritage Square Museum in Highland Park. We had been there many years ago, when it was a struggling attraction in the process of coming into being. Most of the old Victorian houses that had been moved to their location just off the Pasadena Freeway were not yet furnished. In the intervening years, we would pass by the site visible from the Freeway. I am glad that Martine suggested we give the place another chance.

We don’t think of Los Angeles as an old city, despite the fact that it was founded as a Spanish pueblo in 1781—some fifteen years before Moses Cleaveland founded the city of my birth. But whereas Cleveland has shrunk into relative obscurity during my lifetime, Los Angeles has become one of the great cities of the world, and the second largest in the United States. One of the reasons we think of it as a new city is that we have made too liberal use of the wrecking ball to clear away old building to replace them with new ones.

The Main Entrance to the Hale House at Heritage Square

The only real way to visit Heritage Square is to take one of the tours that begin on the hour. The ours themselves last upward of two hours and are quite informative. Our guide explained how, even after they have been moved, two of the houses are subject to paranormal phenomena. Most of the incidents were in the octagonal Longfellow-Hastings house, at which an apparition appeared during one daytime tour. There have also been occurrences of table-tipping; and, one time, a latched door opened by itself just as the tour guide was planning to release the latch. No spirits made a ruckus during our tour yesterday.